Coaches' reflections on the meaning and value of Masters athletics
Ronkainen, N. J., Ryba, T. V., CallumTonge, & Tikkanen, O. (2019). Coaches' reflections on the meaning and value of Masters athletics. Journal of Aging Studies, 49, 31-38. doi:10.1016/j.jaging.2019.03.004
Published inJournal of Aging Studies
Embargoed until: 2021-06-01Request copy from author
© 2019 Elsevier Inc.
Masters sport is a growing social movement offering the opportunity to participate in competitive sports in later life. Although many studies have explored Masters athletes' experiences, little is known about how other actors in the sport subcultures construct meaning in Masters sport and whether their stories work to support or hinder participation. Our study explored the cultural narrative resources and life scripts surrounding sport and ageing that coaches draw upon in two European countries, England and Finland, where sport policy has put different emphasis on elite sport and sport for all. We analysed interviews from 23 athletics (track and field) coaches (8 women) to understand how they assign meaning and value to Masters sport. The narrative analysis showed that coaches constructed two possible athlete pathways: the elite athlete pathway, followed by disengagement from competitive sport, and the ‘second chance’ pathway, describing Masters athletics as an option for those who did not succeed in youth. Normative expectations about the life career in athletics, involving a transition from an athlete to a coach and volunteer, also worked to construct participation in Masters athletics as a selfish activity and neglect to ‘give back’ to the sport. Finnish coaches constructed more nuanced stories about Masters athletics and sport in later life, tapping into sport for all narrative resources that circulate in the Nordic countries. The findings indicate that athletics subculture is a contested space where ‘new’ discourses of ageing are only slowly starting to challenge the normative life script of sport as a project of youth. ...